Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Restoring or Refinishing? & How to Clean Marble

My favorite local treasure store is the United Methodist Thrift store that is only a few blocks from my front door.  They are only open Tues, Thur and Sat from 8am to 11:30 am, so you need to work it into your schedule to make it when they are open.  It is worth it though, they have the best prices, and I think, the nicest volunteers that staff the business.  

I always try to go to the furniture building first, really just a small room, but they have had some great bargains there.   Like this for example:

At first glance it looked like it was in great shape.  Looking closer though I found that it had some "repairs" (like the keyhole in the drawer that was patched) 

 and the finish though not bad would need to be worked on, and the front left foot was off, but was in the top drawer.

 The worst part was the marble top (which was not attached, maybe a marriage from another piece?), it was really stained and dirty looking, and I wasn't sure that it could be cleaned.  My friends husband worked for a granite company for years though, so I knew who to go to for advice.  

The price tag was only $20.00. What would you have done?  The same as me?  I bought it!  After some "discussion" with my husband.  I can't blame him, I do have a tendency to start projects and not always finish, and he likes things spare and open, while I like to fill all available space.  He did reluctantly give me the green light on this one though.  Another lady was right behind me when I was paying for it, making sure I would buy it or she would have had it.  When I got it home I noticed one other thing wrong with it.

See the carving above, it's missing on the other side.  How could I have missed it?  Excitement does that to me!

Well this is how far it's come.

I "restored" the finish.  While doing the restoring I learned the difference of restoring and refinishing.  Restoring means keeping as much of the original finish as possible, and just "restoring" what is bad, while refinishing means to strip it down and create a new finish.  It was amazing to me how Mr. Bruce (see more about him here) showed me how to just clean the original finish with fine steel wool, then add 3 coats of wipe-on poly, and before the final coat to use acrylic artist paint to touch up the original finish, and to blend in the wood filler and new pieces we added to make up for broken or missing pieces (I still have to do a coat of wax to complete the finish).  Just wish I'd have taken photos of that part, but I was so into what we were doing I forgot.  He just mixed different wood toned browns with a little black and red, and a smidgen of orange to mimic the finish already there.  I can't tell the difference and I saw where it was painted on.  Amazing!
I still have to plug the hole the lock was in (not an antique or vintage looking lock) and then we'll cover it with a escutcheon.  And find 4 knobs that match, and do some work on the inside.  Oh, and carve a new piece to match the other carving.  Mr. Bruce is sure I can do it, so why not try?

The biggest difference though to me is the marble.  Remember this is how it looked?

This is how it looks now!

There are still chips and dings in it, but those I can live with, but not that nasty staining.  Want to know how I did it?  We tried lots of household cleaning products and also wet sanding with a power sander.  But these stains were deep down in the marble.  Online searches suggested 10% hydrogen solution and white clothes, but I couldn't find that strength easily.  The other suggestion?  Let it sit out in the sun and the rain.  I live in South Florida, in the summer we have plenty of both.  So I gave it a try.  After a few days I noticed some lightening.  So we carted the table with the marble in and out to the driveway each morning and evening.  Then my smart husband suggested placing it in the backyard on buckets and just leaving it there.  So it sat there for another couple weeks.  All together it was out for about 2 months.  So it produces great results if you're willing to wait for them.  I do need to seal the marble, but for now I'm just enjoying the piece as is in my dining room.

Linking up at these great places:
Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

Furniture Feature Fridays


  1. Wow that is really gorgeous! For $20 and some hard work from you and this is one amazing piece!

  2. WOW! I had no idea that you could clean the marble just by setting it outside.....totally worth the wait. I love they knobs that you put on it too. Your hubby sounds like mine....mine get's so frustrated w/me picking up furniture all the time!

  3. Are you kidding? $20!!! You did a beautiful job restoring that piece and it looks lovely in your home.

  4. What a fabulous piece you have now!!! You did a wonderful job and the marble is great!!! Kudos!!

  5. You did a fantastic job ... way to go!

  6. That is a wonderful piece and you did a great job on it....and it's amazing what the sun can fix.

  7. I'm so impressed! Your woodworking and finishing skills are MAD! And the creative way you cleaned the marble! So glad we're connected.


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